Top cuisine spices up a day cruise out of Auckland

Alexandra CaseyThe West Australian
Dining with executive chef Brent Martin.
Camera IconDining with executive chef Brent Martin. Credit: Alexandra Casey/Alexandra Casey

I’m on the deck of one of Cruise New Zealand’s luxury superyachts, looking out at the Auckland city skyline and and the iconic Sky Tower. The engine begins to rumble and we make our way from Auckland’s Viaduct Basin to explore Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. Bordered by the Auckland region, Hauraki Plains, Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island, the gulf spans more than 4000sqkm and is known for its opal waters and more than 50 emerald islands.

We glide under the Auckland Harbour Bridge, watching as bungee jumpers prepare for a thrill, sail past the North Shore and Devonport Peninsula and cruise around Rangitoto Island, before docking at Motutapu Island. From our destination, I can see Waiheke, the Coromandel, Great Barrier and Little Barrier Island in the distance.

On board with Cruise New Zealand.
Camera IconOn board with Cruise New Zealand. Credit: Alexandra Casey/Alexandra Casey

The superyacht F5 is a 60ft (18m) Pachoud Catamaran, its name inspired by the keyboard “refresh” button. It’s an entertainer’s dream, with three cabins, a comfortable lounge and dining space and large outdoor area. The boat can comfortably host up to 30 people on a day trip and sleeps up to six guests overnight. It’s equipped for diving and fishing, with activities for guests including kayaking, swimming, fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving.

Dining with executive chef Brent Martin

Park Hyatt Auckland executive chef Brent Martin is aboard with us, taking care of everything food related.

As a child, Brent found enjoyment cooking with his grandparents. In school, he took home economics and began to find appreciation for the complexity of ingredients and pairings.

Dining with executive chef Brent Martin.
Camera IconDining with executive chef Brent Martin. Credit: Alexandra Casey/Alexandra Casey

At 18, he began to take his passion for food more seriously. His career began with washing pots and pans, and sneaking glances at his peers whipping up intricate dishes. He’s been a chef for 28 years and an executive chef for 17 of those. He’s done stints in Hawaii, the Bahamas, London, Sydney and the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. He’s lived in Seattle and San Diego, and was the Dalai Lama’s personal chef.

Right now, he’s barefoot, wearing a white button-down collar shirt and rolled up dark denim jeans as he moves around our kitchen on water.

Sticky date and banana cake dessert.
Camera IconSticky date and banana cake dessert. Credit: Alexandra Casey/Alexandra Casey

While whipping up a divine spread of chilled salmon, roasted butternut squash and buffalo mozzarella salad, grilled chicken and yakisoba noodles with crispy tofu, he tells me he prefers sweet over savoury. Cue the sticky date and banana cake for dessert.

“Chocolate is my drug of choice,” he says. “It helps me get through stressful times in the kitchen.”

Brent says his appetite for culture and heritage is what has taken him around the world. “I travel to destinations for food and restaurants. Living among different cultures has inspired a passion to learn more about the food scene,” he says.

Cruise New Zealand

Based in the heart of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, Cruise New Zealand is a family owned and operated business specialising in exclusive and luxury boat charters. It offers private and corporate charters from a few hours or a day, to a week or more. Longer charters can venture to destinations including the Mercury Islands, Great Barrier or the Bay of Islands.

Cruise New Zealand caters for those with a taste for excitement and adventure, with the range of activities available including fishing, diving and snorkelling to water skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding and jet skiing. Guests can have their catch cooked by the onboard chef, or discover the crystal waters and marine life of the islands with an oxygen tank. Visits to scenic golf courses, wineries and restaurants can be arranged, along with helicopter transfers and scenic flights.

Views of Motutapu Island.
Camera IconViews of Motutapu Island. Credit: Alexandra Casey/Alexandra Casey

Waiheke Island getaway & transfers

Known for its breathtaking coastal landscapes, boutique restaurants and world-class wineries, Waiheke Island is a must for anyone visiting Auckland. Cruise New Zealand offers luxury charters for guests to experience a day exploring the rolling landscape and relaxing on the island or visiting secluded beaches, while enjoying water activities and an onboard meal. Guests can watch the sun drop below the horizon while enjoying drinks and canapes on board.

On board with Cruise New Zealand.
Camera IconOn board with Cruise New Zealand. Credit: Alexandra Casey/Alexandra Casey

Rua Moana: high end luxury

Rua Moana is the Maori word for “two seas,” and the boat carrying this name is Cruise New Zealand’s most luxurious offering for daytrips and overnight getaways. It was designed and built to cater for “the top end” and launched only two years ago.

The boat was built in New Zealand, with 120 people working on its construction over three years. Rua Moana is 400sqm in size and is made up of four cabins and seven bathrooms, which each taking the name of a destination around Auckland. There are three dining areas, a media room, day bed, hidden wine cellar, and a sunken sea area.

Prices

Cruise New Zealand’s boats have to be chartered.

F5 A half-day cruise (up to five hours) costs $4467 ($NZ4950) for up to 20 guests and a full-day cruise (up to eight hours) costs $6272 for up to 20 guests (excluding 15 per cent GST).

Rua Moana A half-day cruise (up to five hours) costs $13,086 for up to 50 guests and a full-day cruise (up to eight hours) costs $17,598 for up to 50 guests (excluding 15 per cent GST).

Alexandra Casey was a guest of Cruise New Zealand. They have not seen or approved this story.

cruisenewzealand.co.nz

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